Boogie was his name, and knocking me on my butt was his game.
My first pony was the quintessential sub-14.2-hand terror. After leasing jumping ponies for years, my school-teacher parents wanted desperately to find me a pony of my own, and at that point I wanted anything I could get. Like good non-horse parents, they scanned the classified section of the local newspaper for that perfect pony. For some unknown reason, they picked up the phone and called a family that happened to be selling a 2-year-old Paso Fino/Welsh pony.
We told the woman that would soon become my trainer about the pony, and reluctantly she came along to look at him. When we arrived at the barn, Boogie was tied to a wall, and the first thing my trainer saw in him was his giant neck, his flat hip, and his round belly. The first thing I saw in him? A pony that could be my own, and that's all I really cared about.
I got on him. He walked, trotted, sometimes cantered, and followed his nose well enough. He was in the place he'd been trained to be good in, I think, so he didn't try to kill me just then.
We got back in the car after a thorough once-over on Boogie and drove home. Mom and Dad had a talk with my trainer (who had shown national level Appaloosas and Quarter Horses and was a bit taken aback by the grade pony to begin with). She told them "there wasn't anything wrong" with him, but what she really meant was that there wasn't anything particularly right about the pony either. But, just try and tell a 9-year-old that she can't have her first pony, and let me know how that works out for you.
Mom and Dad went and picked up the pony with our Chevy Blazer and bumper pull trailer, and off to the trainer's he went. They knew just enough about horses to know that a 2-year-old pony might not be the smartest thing to bring to our own backyard.
Years later, my trainer told me about the first day she tried to bring Boogie out of the stall. He promptly stood up on his back legs (just leading!) and flipped himself over. He would learn that this was a fun habit to get into because it got him out of work. For a woman used to working with barrel horses and pleasure horses, Boogie was quite the adventure.
After months and months of training and hours and hours of lessons, Boogie came home with me. He became an all-around pony (when he wanted to) and we jumped, ran poles, stakes, keyhole, barrels, showed in halter (always unsuccessfully), and trail rode. He would occasionally wipe me off on a tree, pull back at the trailer and break loose, buck me off, purposefully dive on a barrel, or escape his pasture. But when I grew out of him, he became one of the go-to lesson horses at the barn, and he eventually went to live with a boy who got years of enjoyment out of him. Boogie is now a pasture ornament (I hear it's because he's been let go a little too long and is back to the rotten 2-year-old pony we first bought), and he's very, very loved.
So, the purpose of all of this? Our Gallop Poll for September's issue asks:
All the rage and subject of a breeding fad when Baby Boomers were tykes, ponies now seem to be less common. We'd like to know about your experience with these short-stature members of the equine family. Chose the answer that best reflects your involvement.
1. CHILDHOOD MEMORY. I had a pony as a kid and/or rode one when I visited friends or went to a camp.
2. CURRENT-DAY OWNER. We have a pony for our family now.
3. NOT FOR ME. Sorry, ponies really aren't my thing.
4. ALWAYS LOOKING. I'd love to get my hands on one if I could find the right one.